Nonprofit news roundup April 22, 2009

Obama’s lobbying policy draws criticism

President Barack Obama’s policy baring lobbyists from serving in his administration for at least two years is keeping out people who worked not on behalf of corporations but for the “public good,” The New York Times reported April 20 (see nonprofit lobbying story). Obama’s campaign-trail promises to rid Washington of special interests now may be keeping some of the most qualified activists from serving, critics say.

Obama picks Nike exec to head service agency

President Barack Obama plans to nominate Maria Eitel, president of the Nike Foundation and a former vice president of Nike Inc.; in charge of corporate responsibility,to head Corporation for National and Community Service, United Press International reported April 21 (see Obama nomination story). Eitel previously was European corporate affairs group manager for Microsoft, worked for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and MCI Communications Corp., and served in the White House from 1989 to 1992 as deputy director of media relations and later as special assistant to the president for media affairs, the White House said.

Dogs get only $1 million from Helmsley estate

Trustees of the estate of real-estate tycoon Leona Helmsley will give $136 million to charity, with just $1 million of it going to dogs, The New York Times reported April 22 (see Helmsley estate story). Helmsley, who died in 2007 at age 87, wanted her multibillion-dollar fortune to go only to dog-related charities. But a court ruled the trustees have sole authority to pick the charities her estate benefits.

Brooklyn Museum institutes furloughs, pay cuts

To avoid laying off staff, the Brooklyn Museum will implement a one-week furlough for all employees this summer, will cut pay for all employees making over $60,000 a year and is offering a voluntary buyout package for all 281 full-time employees, The New York Times reported April 17 (see Brooklyn Museum story). The museum’s endowment has fallen to $65 million from $93.1 million a year ago.

New York City Opera raids endowment

Since last fall, the New York City Opera has siphoned off $23.5 million from its endowment to pay off debt and stabilize the group’s financial footing, leaving the endowment at $10.4 million, The New York Times reported April 17 (see City Opera story). The withdrawals, made to cover a cash shortfall and meet payroll, will be repaid to the endowment, the opera says.

‘Green’ nonprofit hub to open in Berkeley in May

The David Brower Center, a 24,000 square-foot “ultra-green” complex with office and public space, will open in May in Berkeley with a majority of nonprofit tenants, The San Francisco Business Times reported April 17 (see nonprofit hub story). About 55 percent of the space is leased, with letters of intent signed on another 20 percent, and the building expects to receive the highest level of certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

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